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Historical society has received several offers of land to move off ND state fairgrounds

Hunter Andes, director of the Makoti Threshing Association, presents a proposal for relocating the Ward County Historical Society's Pioneer Village Museum to the Makoti threshing grounds. Andrea Johnson / Forum News Service1 / 2
David Leite, president of the Ward County Historical Society, speaks about the future of the Pioneer Village museum in a meeting held at Immanuel Lutheran Church on the museum grounds on Thursday. Andrea Johnson / Minot Daily News2 / 2

MINOT, N.D. The Ward County Historical Society has received several offers of donated land where it could potentially relocate its Pioneer Village Museum off the North Dakota State Fairgrounds to settle a six-year dispute.

Historical society president David Leite said at a historical society meeting last week that provided land is donated, the cost of relocating museum buildings and other work could be reduced to about $1 million instead of the $2 million that the museum had originally estimated. Some contractors have offered significant discounts.

Historical society members will evaluate the land that is offered and see whether it meets their needs.

Among the offers are from city officials in Burlington who are interested in having the museum in the former Ward County seat.

Also, Hunter Andes, director of the Makoti Threshing Association, made a proposal that the museum be moved to the Makoti Threshing Show grounds.

Andes said that the Threshing Association board of directors has not yet approved the proposal, but he believes that it would be easily approved. The addition of the pioneer village would add to the attractions at the Makoti Threshing Show, said Andes, who said similar museums are a big draw at threshing shows he has attended in Austin, Manitoba., Rollag, Minn., and in Crosby. He said that moving the museum buildings out to Makoti would also be a great way to attract attention to the museum and to the threshing show.

"Once the house mover gets the wheels under the buildings, it really doesn't matter if they're going one mile or 50 miles," he said in a letter to the Ward County Historical Society. "It's a straight shot to Makoti — the truck would only have to turn twice after leaving Minot. Power lines should not be too much of an issue."

Andes, who holds an engineering technology degree from Bismarck State College, said he would also be glad to design the layout of the pioneer village on Makoti's threshing ground

The State Fair Association is scheduled to meet at the North Dakota State Fair Center on Oct. 3 and Leite said he anticipates that he will receive more information about any potential monetary help the Fair Association might offer for a relocation as well as its timeline for the relocation. Some representatives have suggested the Fair Association wants the museum buildings moved off the fairgrounds by June 1, 2019, which Leite said would be unrealistic, or by the State Fair, which will be held in July of 2019.

The Ward County Historical Society lost a long-running civil suit this summer and have decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court. The State Fair wants the museum removed from the fairgrounds and Judge Rhonda Ehlis ruled this summer that the State Fair Association owns the land where the museum is situated. The historical society had long resisted moving the museum and said it had a right to leave the museum on the fairgrounds under the terms of a 1966 agreement.

Historical society members said they no longer want to expend energy on a lawsuit and plan to grow the historical society in its new location.

Leite said professors and students from Minot State have offered to put together a business plan for the society when the museum is relocated.

People in the audience at the meeting seemed interested in the threshing grounds proposal, but also worried that the distance between Minot and Makoti might make it difficult for volunteers to run the site.

Andes' proposal is one of several that the historical society will have to evaluate, along with other offers of land.

Donations can also be made through an online fundraiser, which is linked on the historical society's website at www.wardcountyhistoricalsociety.com and its Facebook pages at www.facebook.com/donate/258366264774128/

Donations can also be sent through the Pioneer Village Relocation Campaign at Town and Country Credit Union, 615 South Broadway, Minot, N.D. 58701 or directly to the Ward County Historical Society at P.O. Box 994, Minot, N.D. 58702.

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